EFCC clampdown: Ohakim`s brother,commissioner, others on the run
Barely two days after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) cracked down on some top officials of the Imo state government over their alleged involvement in a N15b project scam, other key functionaries and offices in the government have been thrown into serious panic.
Top on the list is the office of the Chief of Staff occupied by Emma Ohakim, the governor's younger brother and the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs under Barrister Kezie Ogaziechi, who is a known hatchet man of the governor.
The duo are said to have abandoned the comfort of their cozy offices for safe havens to evade operatives of the EFCC who are believed, would swoop on the state again following revelation of the four top official already in the commission's custody.
While the whereabout of the Emma Ohakim is yet unknown, Kezie Ogaziechi, who had been living indefinitely in Concorde Hotel, Owerri for the greater part of three years now is said to have fled to his bushy country home of Mbieri in Mbaitoli council area of Imo state, which hitherto, he hardly visited.
Also believed to be at large is the sacked Project Director of the Imo Job Centre, Professor Obioma Iheduru, who presided over the defrauding of unemployed youths of Imo state through a failed job recruitment drive to Dubai , the United Arab Emirates , now notoriously known as the Dubai job scam.
Iheduru's Job Centre through some faceless consultants had fleeced the jobless youths numbering about 60 in number of fund in excess of N16m.
However, t he EFCC had two days ago arrested the Commissioner for Finance, Barr. George Irechukwu, Commissioner for Works, Barr. Ralph Nwosu, Accountant General of the state, Chief Poly Ajoko and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Project Monitoring, Barr. Ben Ekwueme all of whom, as at press time were still in the custody of the Commission.
EFCC spokesman, Femi Babafemi had confirmed the arrest to huhuonline.com / explaining that the officials were arrested in connection with a fraud allegation under investigation by the Commission.
However, the Imo state Commissioner for Information is of the opinion that the procedure adopted by EFCC is flawed as far as the rule of law and respect for human rights were concerned.
Hear him: 'Beside the wild allegations made in what has become a road-show of shame as packaged by the Imo Alliance group in Abuja , no charge has been preferred against this people arrested. From our understanding of word 'arrest' in such matters as this in a democratic society, arrest should only be effected consequent upon a charge and thereafter arraignment. Ironically, the news of their arrest was all over the place before they were eventually taken in by the Commission. We are convinced that this arrest is steeped in very serious political undertone.'
The Commissioner however hinted that the state government would not fold its hands and watch this abuse of human rights, saying that if the excesses of the Commission continue to go unchallenged, rule of law and democracy in Nigeria would be teetering on the brink of collapse.
Okpareke said there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the clampdown on Imo by the EFCC but wanted the Commission to make their operations and mode transparent by answering a few of these questions. The Commissioner urged EFCC to define arrests in such circumstances as this, querying why the Commission would always go out of its way to 'run roughshod' on people and government whenever elections are around the corner.
He however maintained that there was no cause for alarm in the state as whatever interests the arrests may have been designed to achieve, is far from materializing.